Harley Dilly vanished on his way to school in Port Clinton on Dec. 20, but authorities believe the teen is alive and the ongoing search for him is being treated as a runaway child investigation “until someone tells me otherwise,” Port Clinton Chief Rob Hickman told the Toledo Blade.
“We’ve expanded the search throughout the United States at this point,” Hickman told reporters Friday.
The teen’s grandfather, meanwhile, was among more than 100 people who attended a candlelight vigil for him on Sunday in Lakeview Park, where he spoke directly to his grandson, WTVG reported.
“If you’re out there and you’re hearing this or seeing this, we all want you home,” Robert Styndl said. “Your mom [is in] the deepest depression you’ve ever seen. She needs you to lay on her and hug her like you used to. We miss you, son. Come home, please.”
State and local law enforcement agencies scoured a 150-acre area near the boy’s home on Thursday, but no leads regarding his whereabouts were found, police said. A reward of up to $7,000 is being offered for his safe return, the Blade reported.
One teen who attended Sunday’s vigil said Harley is a “very happy” boy who was known to be outgoing in school.
“I feel like something is definitely wrong,” ninth-grader Nevaeh Salyers, 15, told the newspaper. “Something doesn’t make sense. Something happened to Harley and we need to find out what happened to Harley.”
Surveillance video obtained by detectives appears to show the boy walking along his route from his home to the Port Clinton High & Middle School campus sometime between 6 and 7 a.m. Dec. 20. He was reported missing to police late Dec. 21.
Hickman said on Facebook early Monday that he had no update regarding the case. A press conference was scheduled for later in the day.
The FBI, the US Marshals Service and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have joined the investigation to find Harley, police have said.